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“interesting place but not as advertised on its website”
Review of Northern Lights

Northern Lights
Ranked #316 of 1,133 Restaurants in Brighton
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$6 - US$19
Cuisines: Scandinavian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar Scene
Dining options: Dinner, After-hours, Reservations
Description: NORTHERN LIGHTS - BRIGHTON Scandinavian bar/restaurant Northern Lights is a one of a kind independent Scandinavian bar and restaurant in Brighton! We serve delicious, filling, home-made Scandinavian dishes courtesy of Kitchen Kultur; from Swedish meatballs to flæsk (crispy pork belly), to roots fritters and falafel alongside a tasty range of burgers and light bites, we've got you covered! Look out for our special Sunday lunch menu too! Even the bread is baked right here :-) On the drinks menu you'll discover unique flavours in the form of fisherman's friend, licorice, mint and pine tar shots in addition to two dozen flavoured vodkas! We also have a wide range of exotic Scandinavian ciders, beers, herbals teas and coffees. All of our wine, save for one, is vegan. Upstairs we have a FREE function room for birthdays, weddings and other dining get togethers! For creative people, we also offer the upstairs as a free venue in which to hold exhibitions (photography, paintings, graphic design, miscellaneous...) simply ask at the bar or message us if you're interested!
Great Wyrley, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“interesting place but not as advertised on its website”
Reviewed 20 February 2014

Rather grubby, very small place but also interesting as very alternative and good music playing. Couples dancing happily then the bar staff got into a domestic. Over priced food, windows with panes boarded but needs to be seen. Behind the Queens hotel and one of the stop off for the Ghost walk and they give you a Fishermans friend shot which is an acquired taste.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank jooles2005
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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93 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Brighton, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Grotty and shambolic”
Reviewed 2 February 2014

I've been going to the Northern Lights for several years as I have a couple of friends who drink there, but having seen that it won a TripAdvisor "Certificate of Excellence 2013" on a recent visit I felt the need to put the record straight.

This place is a shambles!!! And the frustrating thing is, that’s a shame - because there’s real potential in this Finnish-run "Scandinavian" place and they ARE doing some things right. Its just a shame about the rest...

First, a bit of background. Until 6 years ago this venue was a once-rather-nice restaurant called "The Strand", whose owners pretty much ran the place into the ground before closing down. It looked like the whole building needed a complete refurbishment, totally gutting and re-doing, and perhaps they couldn't afford to do that and called it a day.

And that’s when the "Northern Lights" people took it on, providing a quick and superficial makeover - a lick of paint, a new wooden bar, and some Nordic-related props and fabrics.

Unfortunately that was about as far as it went... the place has been run further and further into the ground ever since. And sheesh, what a dump it is now! I'm struggling to know where to start in describing this aspect to the place. The filthy floors? The dirty, sticky tables? The tatty, worn woodwork? The stained, torn seat covers? The broken window with cardboard taped over it next to my seat? The smashed glass light fitting inside the door, that hasn't been fixed/replaced for years? The grubby extractor fan with a pillowcase or something tied over it? The cracked and dirty ceiling, that looks like it could collapse on your head in a shower of dust and rubble at any moment? The grubby wiring and extension leads hanging from the walls? The hand dryer in the gent's toilets that never worked since the day they opened, but was replaced after several years with a piece of rough scruffy plywood screwed over the hole in the wall? The marker-penned signs on bits of shabby plywood? The broken/missing urinal plumbing? This list of decor crimes goes on...

And then there’s the staff - frequently incompetent and at times stunningly rude and surly, on more occasions than I care to mention. If this is what bar/restaurant service is like in Finland, then God help us!! Staff outside chatting and smoking whilst customers wait at the bar. Staff snapping at customers. Food slapped down on tables, with no condiments offered. Customers having to ask for cutlery to eat their food with. Staff raising their voices over their own obnoxiously loud rock or reggae music when talking to customers at the bar - obviously staff favourites but hardly what most customers are going to want to hear in a Finnish/Nordic-themed place, and complete with plenty of "explicit lyrics" for the benefit of the small children in the room...

Attention to detail in this place is almost non existent. On my most recent visit, coffee came in a filthy cup that looked like it hadn't been washed since last time - or had been perhaps rolling around on a wet dirty floor beforehand - and with what looked like a knickerbocker-glory spoon for the one small cup. The Carlberg lager on tap was flat, and obviously poorly kept. The table appeared to still have glitter stuck to it from when someone was making their Christmas decorations, and there was rubbish on the floor in the corner, including some shards of glass that looked like it had been there from the night before.

And yet.... despite all the above, there ARE positives about this place. The clientele appears to be a friendly and relaxed one, consisting as it does of a mix of Nordic types (and their friends/partners) and students. The various oddments and knick-knacks around and behind the bar sdemonstrate that this is personable place, with some sense of fun. The food varies in quality, but is usually rather nice and reasonable value, offering as it does a relatively modest but well-considered, well-thought-out and balanced selection of dishes. Likewise, with the wine, there is a small but good selection on offer, including vegetarian options. It obvious that someone who works here does actually have a clue, and that some proper thought has gone into these things. Which just makes all the other rubbish things about the place even more of a mystery.

I'm guessing that this place is kept afloat by a clique of hard-drinking friends of the owners and workers (it has that kind of "we really don't care about the rest of you" vibe), and others of a Finnish/Nordic background who want to support a local business that caters for their needs with regards to getting a little "taste of home". The latter of course is fair enough, and actually rather nice. The former however is hardly a good long-term way of running a business, which tends to lose customers over time whilst failing to bring in new ones. There’s a lot of competition in Brighton and Hove, and this place really needs to give itself a major shake-up.

I really wish a could give this place a higher score because I DO like the idea of it, but with all the things that are so grotty and awful and detract from the experience of spending time here, I can only honestly give it 2/5.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Helpful?
1 Thank HungryHoraceBrighton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brighton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Authentic freshly made Nordic food”
Reviewed 26 September 2013

I wandered in here hoping to use my tastecard not realising you are supposed to ring ahead, they don't accept it on a Saturday anyhow, so not off to the best start decided to try a flavored vodka and was recommended the elderflower iced tea vodka drink. At £3.80 this was terrific value for what was a gorgeous drink and more like a cocktail. Cheered by this and a very friendly bar man we decided to have food anyhow. I had a sharing plate of cured salmon, pickles, pickled herrings, bread etc, it was a huge plate and well worth £9.95. The Hot smoked salmon was wonderful. My husband had superb belly pork, mash and red cabbage, again all was perfect.
I really like to low key atmosphere this small bar has,playing non commercial and very interesting music and refreshingly independent with its own personality in the heart of Brighton Great varied menu clearly made with care.I'll be going back.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
Thank JeannaL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Abergavenny, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
121 reviews
75 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Awful Service, mixed food”
Reviewed 7 September 2013

The service was awful, it took well over an hour for our food to come. I asked when the food would be ready and it took a further 20 mins after being assured it was only a few minutes away.

Once the food arrived we weren't served at the same time (there was a 5-10 minute difference between different members), fair enough if they cook immediately but after 1.5 hours I'd expect them to arrive together so we can actually eat together. When the food arrived the barman I spoke to ask how long the food had been said nothing, no apology for our food being late, didn't ask how our food was, and was generally rude.

I was mostly happy with the food I received (reindeer burger). The two other people I was with were unhappy with the portion size of meat they received. After our meal the other barman apologised and was much friendlier, offered us a free shot. Unfortunately, this does little to make up for an otherwise poor experience in this restaurant.
We were only in Brighton for 3 nights, it's regretful we chose to spend even one evening here.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank William N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
24 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Great food awful service”
Reviewed 4 September 2013

Tried to book to use a Tastecard and got an answerphone. No-one called back and when I called later they were fine with me booking late but just said that no-one got in until 4.00. Not too sure why they have an answerphone!

When we arrived we were told to take any table, but given no menu and no-one came over. I ordered at the bar in the end and didn't receive the advertised discount. The bar tender didn't ask if I wanted a drink so I had to prompt him and even then didn't get the drinks ordered!

The food was fantastic though, and great tasting perfect sized portions.

We were going to stay for drinks and to try the vodka that others have raved about, however we weren't exactly made to feel welcome so left after the food.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank John H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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